Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of essays on Zionist thinkers and doers, in Israel and outside, who are pioneering new understandings of what Jewish nationalism can mean in the 21st century.
How fitting that Ruth Gavison, a legal expert in the areas of human and civil rights and constitutional law, was awarded the Israel Prize this week, cited for grappling “exhaustively and courageously with forming Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state.”
If 2000-2010 was the decade of delegitimization, when Palestinian attacks on Israel’s existence gained renewed traction, 2010 was the year of delegitimization-lite.
More and more Jews responded to the relentless criticism of Israel by internalizing it.
True, most rejected the radical caricature of Israel as a racist or apartheid state deserving destruction. But absorbing the anti-Israel poison in the atmosphere, increasing numbers, especially among liberal Jewish elites, attacked Israel as fundamentally broken, caricaturing Zionism as a right-wing enterprise.
Historian and journalist Gil Troy has some hits and misses in his important Tablet essay on the Jonathan Pollard case and what he believes is a nascent mainstream effort in the Jewish community to win his freedom.